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Zucchini and Halloumi Fritters

Fritters for breakfast lunch or dinner, these simple to make little gems are the mainstay of any meal. There are so many variations and lots of recipes out there. One of the most famous versions is Bill Granger’s iconic Sweet Corn Fritters. They’re on the menu at Granger and Co in London and at the original Bills in my home town Sydney. They are pretty good, wherever you eat them.

I have also blogged in the past Gordon Ramsay’s Halloumi, Zucchini amd Herb Cakes, see here for the post. These fritters are good, too.

But these bright green numbers are so easy to make and really tasty, and are currently high on my list of go-to recipes for lunch or dinner.

They are based on a recipe from Hugh Hamilton Wines, in McLaren Vale in South Australia, although I haven’t been able to find the original recipe when researching for this post. 

What I love about these fritters is that they keep their green colour on the outside and inside. And when you cut them open, the halloumi is still a little bit oozy! Lovely.

Ingredients

2 large zucchini
1 red onion
150g halloumi
Zest of a lemon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup plain flour
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C fan-forced. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Coarsely grate the zucchini and red onion using the large holes of a box grater.
Squeeze the grated zucchini and onion to remove excess liquid. The best way to to do this is using your hands, squeezing a handful at a time. Transfer the grated vegetables to a bowl. Now grate the halloumi in the same way.
Add the lemon, thyme leaves and halloumi to the bowl and mix. Stir in the flour and egg, and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Roll heaped tablespoons of the mixture into rough balls and place onto the baking tray. The mixture is quite wet, but don’t worry, as they will keep their shape as they bake. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden and firm. The edges may be a little dark – this just adds to the rustic effect!
Serve with sour cream or Greek yoghurt, and chilli jam or sweet chilli sauce, and a big green salad on the side. Delish!

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Pavlova with Blackberries, Raspberries and Toasted Macadamias

You can never have too much pavlova in my opinion. It’s a truly luscious dessert, that’s as perfect on a hot summer’s day as in mid winter. Serve it with tropical fruits, berries or lemon curd in summer, or warming poached quince or chocolate and hazelnuts in winter.

I have had a pavlova week! Last weekend in Sydney there were summer lunches and barbecues planned to mark Australia Day. You might notice I don’t use the word celebrate, as there is a rising tide of discussion about whether we should mark this day on the 26 January or indeed mark it at all. But I leave that discussion for another post.

Notwithstanding, many pavlovas would have been dutifully made and consumed last week! I didn’t actually make a pavlova, but I did get very involved in the efforts of my friends to produce this famous dessert for their Australia Day lunch.

One friend, a novice cook, sort my advice about pavlova making via text over several days! I found it quite stressful, trying to give the right advice without watching the work in progress. I sent a link to my own pavlova recipes in this blog as well as a helpful YouTube video I found. I was so relieved to hear that the pavlova was a big success – the photos looked great!

Over the weekend I stayed with my friends in beautiful Palm Beach, the Architect and the Delegator, mentioned before in this blog.

The Architect was making his famous pavlova, and I was lucky enough to watch him in action. The recipe comes from that wonderful cook Maggie Beer, but the Architect has now made the pavlova his own, putting his own inimitable stamp on it.

I’ve blogged the original pav before, see here, but I’m doing it again as I have picked up a few tricks and tips watching the Architect in action.

In this version, we made blackberries the star, as they are so plentiful and delicious in high summer. We added raspberries as in the original recipe too, for colour. I laughingly say “we”, as I was giving a little advice, but it was the Architect’s creation!

So here is the recipe. I can only say that that it’s so worth making – it’s absolutely delicious!

Ingredients

6 free-range egg whites

Pinch of salt

2 cups (475 g) caster sugar

1 tbl cornflour

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1/2 cup macadamias

500 mls thickened cream

250 g creme fraiche

250 g blackberries

250 g raspberries

Method

Preheat oven to 140 degrees C fan forced. My experience with pavlovas is that you need this low temperature. Some recipes suggest higher, but I really think low is best. You can always cook a little longer if you’re worried the pav is not done.

Draw 3 x 22 cm circles on baking paper and place the paper on 3 oven trays.

Beat the egg whites and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Don’t over beat at this stage as you can actually beat the air out and the whites will flop!

Ideally a stand mixer is best, but the Architect used hand electric beaters. If you use these you will need an assistant to spoon in the sugar for the next stage. . Luckily I was there to assist!

Gradually add the sugar, a tablespoon full at a time, beating well after each addition until the sugar is dissolved. When all the sugar has been added, best for another minute to make sure all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is not grainy. To test, squash a little piece of meringue between thumb and forefinger and it should should feel smooth.

Fold in the cornflour and vinegar. Now spread the meringue evenly onto the circles. This is where the Architect used his incredible skills, judging exactly how much meringue to spoon onto each circle. You want the discs to be flattish, as you will be layering them, but a few rustic peaks are definitely ok!

Bake the meringue discs for about 40 minutes. They should look dry and crisp on the outside. Turn the oven off and leave the discs to cool on the trays in the oven.

Lightly toast the macadamias in a frying pan over a medium heat until they are golden to light brown.

Whip the cream in a large bowl and then stir in the crème fraiche.

To assemble, place 1 meringue disc on a large serving plate, spread with 1/3 cream mixture and top with 1/3 of the blackberries and raspberries. Place the second meringue disc on top, then another 1/3 cream mixture and 1/3 berries. Top with the remaining meringue disc and decorate, as artfully as you like, with the remaining cream mixture, blackberries and raspberries, and the toasted macadamias.

PS The left over pavlova, while looking a little messy, is so worth fighting friends and family for!

Passionfruit and Lemon Ricotta Cake

This cake is pretty easy to make, looks good and keeps really well. It’s quite dense because of the ricotta, and this helps with its keeping properties. It has both self raising flour and baking powder to help with the rise as it’s heavy.

You don’t need huge slices of this cake, either, as it’s very satisfying. Great for an afternoon tea!

Oh, and it freezes beautifully, which is good to know as you can freeze left over cake to enjoy later – much better then eating it all at the one time!

Ingredients

Cake

140g softened butter 

140g caster sugar

2 free-range eggs

200g full fat ricotta

Juice of 1 medium lemon

140g self-raising flour

1 level tsp baking powder

Buttercream Icing

400g icing sugar

200g unsalted butter

2 passionfruit

75g white chocolate (optional)

Method 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced. Grease and line with baking paper a medium sized cake tin – 18cm or 20cm works well. 

Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor. You can use a stand mixer if you like – but I find the food processor does the job just fine! Add the eggs and process well, then add the ricotta and the lemon juice. Add the flour and the baking powder and pulse a few times to just incorporate the flour. Don’t worry if the cakes looks curdled either after adding the eggs or adding the ricotta – it will come together after you mix in the flour. 

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and bake for 30 – 40minutes, or until golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake in the tin until quite cool, then turn the cake out and remove the baking paper.

For the buttercream icing, I do use my KitchenAid mixer, as I think it helps to get a really light buttercream. But I have made buttercream quite successfully in the food processor too. 

Beat the butter and icing sugar in a stand mixer until light and creamy. Add the passionfruit, seeds and all. I melted white chocolate and added this to the buttercream to give the buttercream extra stability for piping, but you can easily not include the white chocolate.

You can ice the cake however you like. First of all I covered the whole cake in a load of buttercream. I went for the “naked” look on the sides by scraping back the icing with a palette knife to achieve the exposed effect. Then I decided to practise my piping skills by piping rosettes all over the cake. I liked the effect of the passionfruit seeds in each rosette. But a simply iced cake with buttercream is always a thing of beauty! And tastes just as good as cake with more fancy icing!

Sweet and Salty Granola

There are a few recipes that I make on a regular basis, and I love to post new versions on the blog to show you what I’ve been making. Soon I’ll be getting ready to make hot cross buns. I’ll probably wait till March, even though I was shocked to find hot cross buns already in the supermarket after Christmas!

One of my favourite things to make is granola. I make a batch every couple of weeks, as I really need my cereal fix every morning. I’ve posted the recipe a few times already here.

I thought I would add this version as I’m particularly keen on it. But it may not be to everyone’s taste. As the title implies there is salt in this recipe. Quite by accident, I bought salted nuts instead of unsalted for the granola. They were delicious! I love the combination of the sweetness from the dried fruit and honey, with the saltiness of the nuts. And hey, first it was salted caramel and, then salted chocolate, so why not sweet and salty granola?

Ingredients

2 cups of rolled oats
1 cup of bran flakes or similar
1/2 cup of salted nuts like macadamias, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts
A handful of mixed seeds like pepita, linseed, sesame
1/3 cup of honey, warmed to pouring consistency in a microwave
1/2 cup of any dried fruit – sultanas, raisins, apricots, cranberries, sour cherries.

Method 

Pre-heat the oven to 140 degrees C. You could try 160 degrees C for a quicker toasting but be careful you don’t burn the mix. Line a large baking tin with baking paper. You need to be able to spread the mix out so that all the mix is exposed to the heat.

Mix the oats, seeds and nuts together in a large bowl. Loosen the honey before microwaving with a little bit of water to make it more runny and easier to mix. Pour the warmed honey onto the mix and quickly stir it through. The mixture will be quite sticky, so stir fairly aggressively.

Spoon the mixture onto the baking paper in the tin, spreading it out so that it covers the base of the tin and there aren’t any big lumps.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the mixture is golden brown and thoroughly toasted. You will need to turn the mixture over half way through cooking, so that the underneath mixture gets its time on top and gets toasted. The oven time is a bit of guess work – just keep checking and remove when the mix is golden and not burnt!

Let cool for 5 minutes then add the dried fruit, combining everything well. Don’t worry if there are some clumpy bits stuck together with honey – they are a bonus!

You can serve this granola in so many different ways. Milk and Greek yoghurt are favourites with me. I will always have fresh fruit on hand to add to the granola. In high summer in January in Sydney, berries are plentiful and so cheap! Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, all amazing, all wonderful, and I eat them by the punetful. And stone fruit too, is really coming into its own this month. Yellow and white peaches, apricots and nectarines, all delicious. And passionfruit is delicious any time of the year.

If summer fruit is plentiful, then I’m making jam. I’ve made lots of jam in this last week – apricot, blackberry, strawberry, mixed berry, and my new find mango! I will be posting recipes for these shortly.

I’ve been eating my sweet and salty granola with Greek yoghurt and lots of fresh fruit and a dollop of mango jam. A fabulous addition to breakfast! Just delicious! But eat your granola with whatever takes your fancy.

 

Ham and Curried Egg Noodles: Jamie Oliver 5 Ingredients

I found this recipe very timely! I wanted to find a different way to turn the Christmas ham into a new and exciting dish. There are only just so many ham sandwiches or ham salads you can eat in the New Year…

So, Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients, a source of a lot of easily prepared and tasty recipes, was consulted. This ham recipe could have been designed for the festive season. It’s pretty simple, and takes only a few minutes to rustle up.

The curry powder and egg do tend to bind together so it looks a bit scrambled! Just scatter a few more spring onions on top if you want to tidy up the dish.

Here is Jamie’s recipe as is. The olive oil is not memtioned in the ingredients list as it is one of the “staple ingredients” of the 5 Ingredients system of cooking.

Ingredients
l50g egg noodles
4 spring onions
l00g roast ham
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 large eggs

Method
Cook the noodles in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, then drain, reserving a mugful of cooking water. Meanwhile, trim and finely slice the spring onions, and finely slice the ham.

Place the ham in a non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat with one tablespoon of olive oil and the curry powder. While it gets nicely golden, beat the eggs. Pour them into the pan, moving them around with a rubber spatula until they start to cook, then stir in the noodles and most of the spring onions.

Toss over the heat for 2 minutes, then taste and season to perfection with sea salt and black pepper; loosening with a splash of reserved noodle water if needed.

Dish up the noodles, scatter over the remaining spring onions and finish with  one teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blueberry Oat Cakes

These oat cakes are a cross between cakes, biscuits and scones. They are quite dense, with ground rolled oats and blueberries.

I developed the recipe because I am currently reading “The Violet Bakery Cookbook” by the wonderful Claire Ptak. As well as being a great baker in London, she made the famous wedding cake for Harry and Meghan in 2018. She has several rather rustic scones recipes, often with wholemeal or spelt flour, often featuring fruit, in her book. She is so imaginative in her recipes and I love her presentation too!

The mixture is very crumbly and will be difficult to bring together into a dough, particularly with the frozen blueberries. But don’t worry, just pat the mixture into shape and by resting it, you can cut the rounds from the mixture.

Here’s my recipe. This makes 12 smallish oat cakes. You could double the quantities for larger, more substantial oat cakes.

Ingredients
100g rolled oats
150g plain flour
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
50g raw sugar or brown sugar
Zest of half an orange
125g cold unsalted butter cut into 1 cm chunks
150g creme fraiche
125g frozen blueberries

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Blitz the rolled oats in a food processor until finely ground. Mix all the dry ingredients plus the orange zest in a bowl or in a food processor. Cut in the cold butter by hand until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs, or you can continue to use a food processor on pulse, but be careful not to overwork the dough.

Quickly stir in the creme fraiche until just mixed in. Stir in the frozen blueberries.

Turn the mixture out onto a floured board, and pat into a square about 3 or 4cms thick. Rest for 5 minutes at least, even 10 minutes.

Using a 6cm cutter, cut out rounds and place onto the baking sheet. You will probably get 8 or 9 from the dough, then you will need to gather up the remains of the dough and pat together (don’t re-roll) before cutting out the last few rounds.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the rounds are brown on top. You could check after 20 minutes to see how they are coming along. Take out of the oven and wait until the oat cakes are cool before serving.

Serve on their own – they are sweet enough – or with homemade berry jam and Greek yoghurt.

Jamie’s Cherry Cheesecake Semifreddo for Christmas

Here’s another recipe from the archives for a Christmas dessert. It’s a lovely Jamie Oliver ice cream bombe from 2013.
This cherry cheesecake semifreddo bombe is pretty spectacular when frozen in a domed bowl and then turned out. And a cold alternative to a traditional hot Christmas pudding or perhaps serve both  – that’s what I usually do!
I remember finding this dessert from a magazine of Christmas recipes produced by Woolworths, our Australian supermarket for whom Jamie is the signature chef, so the recipe was created as a seasonal dessert for Australia.
Jamie has combined three great ideas – cherries, luscious cheesecake and semifreddo for all who love ice cream.
It’s an easy recipe but you need to be prepared for a quite a few steps, and of course freezing time overnight.
I made these changes to the original recipe:
I used frozen pitted cherries rather than fresh (simply to save time pitting the fresh cherries).
I used ginger nut biscuits for the biscuit crunch component instead of digestive biscuits. This really worked as the biscuit crunch had a great festive ginger flavour!

Ingredients

150g digestive biscuits (I used ginger nuts)
75g unsalted butter
250g fresh cherries (I used frozen pitted cherries)
250g golden caster sugar
1 lemon
4 large free-range eggs
250ml double cream
250g cream cheese
50g dark chocolate
A large handful of cherries or mixed fresh berries

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until fine. Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat and stir in the blitzed biscuits and a good pinch of sea salt.
Empty the mixture into a small baking dish (roughly 15 x 20 cm), pat down and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden and firm. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, halve and de-stone the cherries and place in a small pan with 200g of the caster sugar. (Or use frozen cherries). Finely grate in the lemon zest and squeeze in the juice of half and place over a medium-low heat.
Gently bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6-8 minutes, or until softened and syrupy. Leave to cool completely, then blitz two-thirds of the mixture into a purée in a blender.
When you are ready to assemble the semifreddo, separate the eggs into two large mixing bowls and pour the double cream into a third bowl. Whisk the cream to soft peaks and beat in the cream cheese.
Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining caster sugar until creamy and pale and doubled in volume.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of sea salt until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the whites into the yolks, using a large metal spoon to keep the mixture as light as possible.
Beat a large spoonful of the egg mixture into the cream cheese mixture to loosen it, then carefully fold through the remaining.
Marble in half the puréed cherries and crumble in most of the biscuit mixture in large and small pieces, then fold through most of the whole cooked cherries. Spoon the semifreddo into a 1.5 litre ceramic bowl, then crumble over the remaining biscuit and ripple through most of the remaining purée. Put the dish into the freezer for at least 6 hours.
When you are ready to serve, dip the bowl 2/3 of the way into a large bowl or pan of just-boiled water, being careful not to submerge completely. Hold until you start to see the semifreddo loosen from the sides of the bowl. Place an upside down cake stand or plate on top of the bowl, and quickly turn over, holding one hand on the bowl and one hand on the cake stand.
The semifreddo should come out in a beautiful dome. Serve garnished with the remaining puree, cooked cherries, shavings of dark chocolate and a handful of fresh cherries or mixed berries.

 

 

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